Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Some Summertime Inspiration!

It's finally officially summer here in Phoenix. After a very mild, barely hot few months we are now back on schedule with our 100+ weather. Ugh.

We always have some sort of water play, either a little pool, the water table or the mister that you see my son, Jadyn, playing with here!
I think we might try to do some homemade playdough, I really like these recipes..

I also save all kinds of containers and stash them in a box in the closet instead of throwing them away. Then I pull it out, some glue, a little paint and let the kids create whatever they are inspired to make. Last time, Javon (the little boy I watch) made a spyglass and had a great time running around playing pirate. ARgh! I always feel great about these projects. They keep waste out of the landfill and let the kids explore their own creativity.

We also buy puzzles, books and little toys that end up on clearance for those "extra hot days" which might be equal to your "rainy days". When the kids are being good I let them pick one out!

Where I'm lucky enough to have a one year old who is amused by an empty soda bottle, many of you have kids you must endlessly entertain. So I thought I'd offer up some other suggestions...

For the little ones, here's so "signing" projects you can do together! Hand print crafts are so cute!

DTK has always been a GREAT resource for me for coloring pages and worksheets for the five year old I watch. Here's their listing for summer activites..
Did you see the ADORABLE elmo tp roll pattern? Save the day and the environment!!

Got kids a little harder to entertain? Go over to Joe's toy a day and make a paper masterpiece.

You can make this features all kinds of sewing projects for different ages and projects.

And of course, who can forget the ultra hip (Yes, I said it- HIP!) Threadbanger for those teens and twenty somethings, or hey, for yourself!

Specifically for us moms, head over to the "sassy" brassy apple blog!

For you extra crafty mommas needing a new decor item, pop over to pickles and make this GOREGOUS diy lampshade! http://www.pickles.no/whirl-it-lampshade/2009/6/28/whirl-it-lampshade.html

Happy Crafting and Wishes for mild Summers!

Whats for Dinner?

As I've mentioned I'm fairly new to culinary arts. Ok, I'm fresh off the boat. My memories of cooking from childhood were mostly of the microwave exploding, something on fire or someone screaming. My moms idea of cuisine? Mac N Cheese, straight from the box! Needless to say, I was on my own.

I looked at seeing about taking cooking classes but for the moment I found most to be out of budget for me right now. I watch Food Network pretty constantly and dream of making delicious, mouth-watering meals. What do I usually make you might ask? Dinner Ala Box.

Some great sites that have helped me on the, "Whats for Dinner?" front are:

Saving Dinner, Leanne is a charm, and her staff are great. You can get some free recipes and then order more! She has it set up in menus with different needs/categories and has a grocery list for you as well.

Also, I love FamilyFun because they have a little recipe box online for you to store ideas you like, or you can print it in recipe card format and glue it to a index card. Plus almost all are based around kids!

Then my newest inspiration, Menu in a Box. The very talented Ruthie, and SUPER ORGANIZED--You go Mom! has great suggestions and bright colorful pictures to match! Yay!

I was fortunate enough to come up with a recipe my family (and everyone who tries it!) ADORES. It's become sort of my signature dish, and I want to share it with you. You can borrow mine until you find your own! Also, some lovely ladies from Bot-swap have shared some recipes with me as well that I'll include here too! It's a Casserole Bonanza!

My recipe is:

Mama’s Mexican Casserole

A yummy, kid friendly Mexican enchilada inspired casserole dish! Ole’!

Chicken Breasts
1 1/2 cup
Enchilada sauce (we use Macayo’s)
Flour Tortilla’s cut in half
1 cup
Sour cream
1 ½ cups
Shredded Cheese (we use Mexican mix variety)
1 cup
Yellow Corn
1 cup
Stewed tomatoes chopped

The Chicken can be substituted for a lb of beef, you also could use a different type of tortillas if you liked. Green chilis or hot sauce could also be added if you like yours more spicy.
1. Cook the chicken in ½ a cup of the enchilada sauce and season to taste until done, then shred with fork or fingers. Mix with corn and tomatoes in the remainder of enchilada sauce.
2. Spray casserole dish with non-stick, preheat oven to 375
3. Start with a bottom layer of chicken/corn mix, then place enough tortillas to cover the top (this depends on the size of the dish your using!) and cover torillas with sour cream and then top with cheese. Repeat this once more: Using all the Chicken/Corn/Tomatoes mix, then the Tortilla’s, Remaining Sour Cream and Cheese.
4. Cook at 375 for 30 minutes or until Cheese is toasted on top and bubbly.
5. If you want it to be more decorative, remove it about 5 minutes early and place some sliced tomatoes on the top. Top with sour cream and cilantro if desired.

Tip: This is one of those dishes that is WAY yummier the next day! So freeze some for later, that is if you can stop everyone from eating it all!

Here's the recipes from my lovely lady friends over at Swap-bot!

From Shellycarebear we have:

Baked Tilapia

This one is always a hit with my family. You can also substitute the tilapia for other filets.
· 4 to 6 tilapia filets
· cooking spray
· 8 to 12 ounces baby spinach, cleaned
· 1/4 cup chicken broth
· 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
· salt and pepper
· Creole seasoning blend
· 1 small tomato, chopped
· 4 green onions, thinly sliced
Spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray and add the spinach. If necessary to make the spinach fit it into the baking dish, steam or saute the spinach for a minute or two to wilt slightly.
Sprinkle spinach with salt and pepper and onion powder; add the chicken broth. Sprinkle tilapia filets lightly with salt, pepper, and Creole seasonings. Arrange the filets over the spinach and sprinkle with chopped tomato and sliced green onion. Cover the baking dish with foil and bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Can be served over rice.
Serves 4.

From Christine we have:

My whole family loves this. Sometimes I'll make it with mushrooms, red peppers, etc. Whatever I get out of the garden. You can also find the Turkey pepperoni which is a bit healthier and make it lower fat.

Pizza Casserole

2 cups uncooked egg noodles
1/2 pound lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 cup sliced pepperoni sausage (like Hormel)
16 ounces pizza sauce
4 tablespoons milk
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese (or more depending on how much you love cheese - you can layer this however you want)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

Cook noodles according to package directions.

In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, brown the ground beef with the onion, garlic and green bell pepper. Drain excess fat. Stir in the noodles, pepperoni, pizza sauce and milk, and mix well. Pour this mixture into a 2-quart casserole dish.
Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 20 minutes, top with the cheese, then bake for 5 to 10 more minutes.

Hope you all try it! :)

This one is so good too - a little different but another pasta casserole...

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole
3 cups cooked, cubed or shredded chicken
8 ounces spaghetti, broken into pieces
1/4 cup chopped pimento peppers
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp garlic powder (& whatever other kind of seasoning you like)
1 (10.75 ounce) can condensed cream of
mushroom soup (or cream of chicken)
1/4 cup white wine (or chicken broth)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
salt and pepper to taste
*Optional (drained can of Rotel tomatoes)
1.Put uncooked spaghetti in a large pot of salted boiling water. Let simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente. Drain.
2.Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
3.In a large bowl combine the chicken, cooked spaghetti, pimento, bell pepper, onion, soup, wine and 1 cup of the cheese. Season with garlic, salt and pepper to taste and mix all together. Spread mixture into a 9x13 inch baking dish and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Sprinkle remaining cup of cheese on top and bake for another 15 minutes.

From Pam we have:

Veggie casserole
1 large bag of mixed frozen veggies or 2 small bags of veggies (basic mixed or like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots what-ever your family likes. *Cook and drain.1/2 to 3/4 cup ranch dressing1 - 2 cups cheddar cheese1 roll ritz crackers - crushed1/4 to 1/2 cup melted butter1 can sliced waterchestunts
Mix *cooked veggies and waterchestunts mix with ranch dressing in a 9x13 inch pan. Top with cheese, in small bowl mix ritz's and butter pour over cheese and spread out evenly. Bake @ 350 for 20-30 minutes.
This is always a favorite at pot-lucks and BBQ's!

Thanks all!

Love, Wishes and Delicious Dinner Dreams,


Monday, June 29, 2009

Good Beginnings!

Imagine your perfect day from start to finish. How does it start? What do you do? Who are you with? What makes it perfect? What are some words that can describe your day? What are some words to explain how you feel?
Now think of little ways to incorporate that perfect day and those feelings into your daily life. Is it extra time with your loved ones? More time for yourself?

For me, my perfect day started with a much needed, very rare commodity-- PERSONAL TIME! I would do some yoga and stretching, writing in my journal and planning my day with calm, positive intentions. Then I would make breakfast before anyone was up so they'd wake to delicious smells wafting from the kitchen.
This is my perfect morning, maybe yours includes a sunrise walk or a cup of coffee and a newspaper, the idea is that it is YOURS. Without even meaning so, this will even become a memory for those we love. For instance, my mom wakes up before the sun and brews a pot of coffee while she watches the news, that's her morning ritual, but even more, its part of who she is.

For a good start, so I've attached some links of video's courtesy of the lovely Barbara Biziou on Rituals..

I've realised how much I like having a regular pattern to how our day goes, and with routine and ritual its easier to schedule time for myself and for chores that have to be done.

And if there was one thing I've learned by being a mom, it is how important rituals are to our little ones. I was one of those "NEW MOMS" under the impression my baby will fit into my lifestyle and obviously suprised I don't even have time for a lifestyle. I can tell you, RITUALS AND ROUTINES HAVE SAVED MY SANITY!

My son is at the cusp of Two. Well my friends, "terrible" came early, as with everything else my son does. He is a temper-tantrum KING! The littlest things set him off to an all-out-full-face-turning-red-tiny-feet-stomping-scream fest with me asking politely, (ok, more like begging) "Whats wrong Jadyn? Honey?" to no avail.

However, I discovered this gem by accident one night and instead of the hour long wail-fest, he went to bed without a peep! By implimenting a night-time ritual where my son goes through the house turning out the lights and saying "Night-Night" to each room and walking himself to bed, he will go to sleep with out a fuss. I mean honestly laying himself down, rolling over and GOING TO SLEEP! No rocking, or rubbing his back or listening to wailing with the good ole' cry it out method, just blissful sleep--for him and us! Since then, we make sure he knows what's going on, what's coming next and it cuts WAY back on his tempertantrums--HURRAY!

Here's our schedule.. We keep some things firm-ish. Bedtimes are before 9pm, usually 8pm and he doesn't sleep in past 9am. Other then that things go sort of according to him and whats going on. Take that NO LIFESTYLE! Ha!

Jadyn’s Day Routine
7:30-8:30 a.m. Wake up, play in the crib
9:00 a.m. Breakfast
9:30 a.m. Get dressed, brush teeth
10:00 a.m. Read books, Cartoons and play
10:30 a.m. Lunch
11:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Nap
2:30 p.m. Arts and Crafts
3:00 p.m. Snack and cleanup
3:30 p.m. Playtime
4:30 p.m. Afternoon snack
5:00 p.m. Outdoor play/walk
5:30 p.m. Dinner
6:00 p.m. Playtime and cleanup
7:00 p.m. Have a bath/brush teeth
7:30 p.m. Pajamas, story time, lullabies
8:15 p.m. Bedtime

So my goal is to wake up around 6:00am-7:00am so I have enough time to do my morning ritual.

My ritual is:

6:00:: wake up, smile, thank the day!
6:15:: get dressed, wash face, brush teeth, makeup, make bed!
6:45:: stretches, yoga
7:15:: journal, daily inspiration
7:30:: go over PODA, home notebook, think about dinner
8:00:: feed Dolce, get Jadyn's breakfast ready
8:15- until Jadyn wakes up:: Check email, Swaps, Blogs, News

To help me plan my day I use a number of EXCELLENT resources, one is momagenda which you can purchase or print out some awesome organizers!

Another resource I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE is 'creativemom'
http://www.creativemom.net/ see her "tools for the WAHM"!!

Also, the nest brought to you by the knot, has a whole arsenal of tools for you whether your a mom or not!

If you are a SAHM, and like planning out your whole day, you could check out Fly Lady. She is great! I use alot of her stuff for inspiration, thus far I haven't been able to make everything work with toddler in tow, but I have high hopes!

Here's a link to get you started!

Hope that gets you started!

Love and Wishes,